Heel Spurs

What is the cause of Heel Spurs?

A heel spur is a calcium deposit that has formed on the heel of the foot. Heel spurs can result in constant heel pain with walking, running, or standing. Heel spurs can occur from repetitive trauma to the foot, whether from a ligament strain, strain or stretching of the plantar fascia, or injury to the membrane that covers the bone. It is very common for heel spurs to be present along with the condition of plantar fasciitis since this condition usually results in constant stretching or a strain of the plantar fascia. Heel spurs are most common in individuals that run on hard surfaces, walk incorrectly, wear shoes that do not fit correctly or support correctly, and/or are overweight.

X-ray image of a heel spur with labelled arrows pointing to the spur in an x-ray.X-ray of heel spur

Do I have a Heel Spur?

Usually if one has a heel spur they describe the symptom as a sharp pain with standing, walking, or running that becomes dull when not actively doing one of these activities. This sharp foot pain that feels like more of a dull ache when not participating in one of the activities.  Foot pain and arch pain in the morning is common with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

What is the Fastest way to get Rid of a Heel Spur?

Surgical removal of the heel spur is the fastest way to get rid of a heel spur. Surgery is not always necessary because you may be able to relieve the pain from the heel spur through physical therapy or footwear modification.

X-ray of human foot bones highlighting a spur heel in red to show where it occurs. JOI RehabX-ray of a heel spur

How are Heel Spurs Treated?

Treatment for Heel Spurs include:

Surgical removal of the heel spur

Sometimes conservative management of heel spurs does not result in successful patient outcomes. In these instances surgery is required for removal of the heel spur.

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is a great conservative treatment option for heel spurs. Usually Physical Therapy will consist of interventions such as stretching, strengthening, and improving walking or running form. There also may be modalities such as ice used to control the inflammation with heel spurs.

Inflammation control

Since heel spurs are usually a result of frequent inflammation and also contribute to additional inflammation it is necessary to control inflammation with anti-inflammatory medication, whether prescribed by a doctor or over the counter. In severe instances of inflammation injections to control inflammation may be ordered to help reduce the negative symptoms.

Footwear modification

Since footwear is a common contributor to the formation of heel spurs or occurrence of plantar fasciitis, which may lead to heel spurs or coexist with heel spurs, modification of footwear may be a treatment option in some instances. When modifying footwear it may be as simple as changing to a shoe with additional support. However, many times a more significant modification of footwear is needed and custom orthotics may be required. Custom orthotics are individualized and are made based off of things such as gait pattern, pain location, pressure points, anatomical alignments, and joint mobility. Custom orthotics can usually be placed in any shoe depending on the type of orthotic or shoe being used.

Is there hope for someone with heel spurs?

Although heel spurs can be a debilitating condition with weight bearing activities, there is hope for someone with heel spurs. Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute's Doctors and Physical Therapy team provide various treatment options all designed to help our patients return to an active lifestyle.  JOI and JOI Rehab are now offering Telehealth and ASAP Injury Appointments.  Please call (904) 858-7045 or click below. 

By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC


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